Daddy & Me, Side by Side

Little, Brown. May 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316055864.
PreS-Gr 2–A father and child on a camping trip in the woods create a deep sense of connection with each other and nature. Fisher’s digital artwork cleverly frames the story right from the front-end papers, which offer a bird’s-eye view of the treetops accentuating the vastness of the forest and the beauty of the outdoors. A lone car on the road suggests that the experience will be intimate. As Daddy and child hike, cross bridges, fish, and enjoy the evening fireflies, visual and textual clues suggest that shared family traditions are being passed down from Pop-Pop to Daddy, and then Daddy to child. Written in first person from the perspective of an inquisitive child, the tone is meditative, and the pacing is leisurely. The child wonders whether they are potentially traversing the same spaces and feeling the same appreciation for the surroundings that Pop-Pop and Daddy did on previous trips. Softly defined artwork enhances the sense of calm and belonging. A swirling leaf design motif running throughout lends a magical quality to the forest, and a brief scene alludes to grief and loss, acknowledging the missing grandfather, and normalizing feeling sad about that loss. All family members are Black, and in text and in illustration, the child is not specifically gendered, allowing for an inclusive interpretation.
VERDICT A recommended purchase for sharing one-on-one, with a generational continuity camping theme and as a gentle treatment for addressing loss of a grandparent.

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